Comfortably seated on Eurosit's products around its boardroom table in Nevers, France, furniturelink learned about this furniture manufacturer and its commitment to the environment at both the company/plant level and product level.
Eco-consultant Paule Guérin, employed by VIA (see issue #85) to facilitate eco-design projects that have been approved for external financial support, coordinated furniturelink's visit to Eurosit in October 2007 to meet with Didier-Arnaud Boréa (trading and marketing manager) and Thierry Lorron (research and development manager).
One of eight companies in the Sokoa group, Eurosit manufactures quality office seating. A leader in its sector in France, Eurosit employs 140 workers at its sprawling production facility in Nevers in the Bourgogne (Burgundy) region, about 260 kilometres south of Paris.
The Sokoa group produces approximately 500,000 chairs per year, with Eurosit manufacturing close to 160,000 in the medium- to high-price range. Other Sokoa plants produce low- to medium-priced furniture.
Awarded ISO 14001 certification in 2006, Eurosit recently updated its plant with improved water and energy management systems and plans to eliminate its chrome-plating tanks.
Whenever possible, it supports local subcontract manufacturers and material suppliers, a policy that Eurosit views as a "socially responsible" goal with direct eco-benefits. As an example, Boréa recounted how Eurosit favoured a local plastics moulding company in financial difficulties over a moulding facility within its own group. Eurosit also sources veneer for its chair parts from Bourgogne-based suppliers.
Bob chair (left). Designed by Valencies School of Design and Eurosit staff.
E5 chair (centre). Designed by Christophe Marchand.
Laminated veneer chair component (right).
Boréa divided this level into three subgroups, with examples:
(1) "Eco-creation" (minimal use of materials/energy)
Using snap-together parts to eliminate the need for assembly power tools, applying ergonomic principals to their production lines and using custom designed delivery trucks to minimize packaging
(2) "Eco-process" (use of renewable materials)
Phasing out the use of PVC and using more wood/veneer and composites (as an alternative to energy-hogging aluminum alloys)
(3) "Eco-recycling" (plans for double-life parts)
Where feasible, designing chair parts economically to outlive the original chair and encouraging a second life in remanufacturing plants in developing countries
E6 prototype chair (left). Thierry Lorron demonstrates E6 prototype (right).
Produced in 2002 and designed by students from the Valencies School of Design and Eurosit staff, the Bob chair incorporates recycled steel and polymeric materials.
The E5 chair, designed by Zurich-based Christophe Marchand, proved to be the more ambitious project. It meets all the requirements of the official French NF ecological certification scheme - Eurosit's first chair to receive this full designation.
The E5 boasts the unique aspect of its patented laminated eco-certified veneer structural component (inset above). Strong, resilient and lightweight, the part eliminates the need for a more energy-draining metal component. Though the E5 went on the market just this year (2007), the E6 prototype is already being tested (images above). Additional eco-concepts, including a non-foam upholstery seating membrane, compact "knock-down" components to reduce size of shipping container and snap-together parts, have been incorporated.
Eurosit and French furniture producers in general receive development funding from various agencies in France. VIA (see issue #085) facilitates the services of eco- and design consultants, FCBA (see issue #085) provides the expertise of its ergonomics, testing and research staff, and the French government department of industry makes available interest-free loans for innovative furniture projects and research. Thanks in part to these schemes, Eurosit's eco-seating products support the business world - quite literally.
© furniturelink 2007, (top image and text) other images © Eurosit